STOP! POLICE! Officer rugby tackles drug dealer in Ilford High Road
- Credit: Archant
“Stop! Police!” was all I heard being bellowed from somewhere down the high street before a man raced passed me pursued by police officers.
What this man did not know was that he was running towards a swarm of officers out giving advice and patrolling Ilford Town Centre.
Having been asked not to cycle on the pavement, the young man bolted down the High Road to get away from police, instantly raising their suspicions.
That was when he came across Pc Dan Troy-Pride, who has been in the job for less than two years.
Unperturbed by the man hurtling towards him, Mr Troy-Pride remained calm and, in what can only be described as a rugby tackle to make Jonny Wilkinson proud, lifted the man into the air and on to the floor.
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Within seconds the suspect was surrounded and searched. After officers found drugs on him he was taken to the station and later charged with dealing.
The Clementswood police team was out on one of its routine patrols of the town centre last week and had set up an information tent to give advice to anyone concerned about crime.
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The day was led by Sgt Jake Sutton, whose team was giving out window and panic alarms, ultraviolet pens to mark your property with, and safety advice.
Mr Sutton says that having the crime prevention stand gives people a chance to find out how they can protect themselves and their property and acts as a deterrent to criminals.
Plain clothes officers were stationed at one end of the High Road to stop people riding their bicycles on the pavement.
“It might seem like a small thing but we get lots of complaints that it’s a problem and elderly people feel uncomfortable with it,” Mr Sutton said. “It’s surprising how much it affects people. You never know what’s going to happen on patrol.”
That certainly seems to be the case on this particular afternoon, where simply asking someone to get off their bike has resulted in an arrest for drug dealing.
The police team does regular patrols up and down the High Road and speaks to staff in shops.
Mr Sutton, who also leads the town centre’s own police team, said: “We are doing lots of work with the banks regarding criminals following people who have taken out money.
“We encourage banks to have town link radios, which give them a direct line to us. If someone’s getting a bit agitated then we can deal with that problem.”
Getting to know the managers of the shops is an important part of the town centre strategy and, according to Louise McAinsh, the manager of Halifax, High Road, Ilford, is having a positive impact.
She said: “I think it’s got a lot better. There have been lots more police around and I know if something kicks off they will be here.”
One of the initiatives was painting yellow boxes on the ground surrounding the cash points to encourage people to stand back when you take out money.
This, together with putting high visibility patrols in “problem areas” like around betting shops, has had an impact on crime levels, according to Mr Sutton.
“People feel less safe in the evenings when they are coming back from work so we have high visibility patrols,” he said. “We have halved crimes in these particular areas within the past few months.”
The call then goes out for back-up after a police car which flags up registration plates which have links to crimes, identifies a vehicle of interest.
Mr Sutton quickly gets into a car and is off down Ilford Hill to see what help he can give to the team on the scene.
Despite some hot tempers, police search the vehicle and occupants and within minutes Mr Sutton is back on patrol.
“Footfall seems to be going up in the town centre,” he added. “I’ve worked in Ilford for 10 years and can honestly say I feel safer now.”